With cardamom, a high value cash crop in the southern districts, plagued by a drop in yield because of fungal infections such as Chirke and Furkey and wildlife invasion, farmers are exploring Shiitake mushroom cultivation as an alternative source of income.
Shiitake mushroom fetches around Nu700 – 800 per kg and with new Green Manufacturing and Repairing (GMR) Shiitake Cultivation, farmers earn Nu 1000 per kg.
“Both Cardamom and Shiitake are seasonal crops but I would choose to cultivate Shiitake,” said Karsang Dorji who is a successful Shiitake mushroom vendor in Chukha . “With GMR Shiitake Cultivation, I can grow Shiitake anywhere irrespective of weather conditions and I can also earn more income from Shiitake cultivation.”
“During my research, I encountered many defeated farmers who complained about poor Cardamom yield and they attributed it to the fungal infections,” Karsang Dorji said. “They also complained about the fall in the price of the cardamom this season.”
According to mushroom farmers from Chukha agricultural officials have said there is no other alternative to the problem than to burn the infected Cardamom and plant it again which takes three years.
Karsang suggested shiitake mushroom as the best alternative to cardamom. “With GMR technology, there will be maximum outcome with no loss at all and no disease can infect the mushroom unlike cardamom,” he said. “I am also planning a Shiitake Mass Production project in Bhutan which would benefit all the farmers engaged in Shiitake mushroom cultivation.”
A farmer said cardamom was a successful business in the beginning but gradually yields started to decline disappointing farmers in the village. During that desperate situation a friend suggested cultivating shiitake mushroom, which he did and it had brought him income.
“I can dry the mushroom for preservation using the GMR dryer,” he said.
Shiitake mushrooms are high in polysaccharides such as lentinans and other beta-glucans. These compounds protect cells from damage, boost your immune system, and increase white blood cell production to combat microbes. Polysaccharides have anti-inflammatory properties as well.